INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 16, 2003) -- Andretti Green Racing (AGR) announced today it is fielding a fourth Honda-powered Dallara entry in the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series to be driven by 2003 Kansas Indy 300 winner Bryan Herta.
Herta, who enjoyed an eight-year career in the CART series, started 11 races in 2003 for Andretti Green Racing in a substitute role for the injured Dario Franchitti. Herta made his debut with AGR at Texas Motor Speedway on June 7 and in his 11 starts, grabbed the Kansas win and a total of six top-five finishes. Those numbers included a string of three consecutive top-three finishes at Kentucky (Aug. 17), Nazareth (Aug. 24) and Chicagoland (Sept. 7).
"It's very exciting for Andretti Green Racing to be able to add a fourth car," said Michael Andretti, who owns the team along with partners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree. "Bryan did such a great job for us last year and we really didn't want to lose him. The IndyCar Series is so competitive that you need every resource and advantage you can get.
"We know it won't be an easy thing to do, but being able to run four cars and keep Bryan Herta in our lineup should give us a great shot to contend for the 2004 championship. We would like nothing better than to be able to deliver that to Honda and all of our partners in 2004."
Herta's resume includes a pair of series titles; the first coming in the 1991 Barber Saab Pro Series and the second in the Indy Lights Championship in 1993. The Michigan native and Valencia, California resident competed in his first CART event in 1994, notched his first pole position in 1995 and then scored back-to-back wins on the road course at Laguna Seca in 1998 and 1999.
"I couldn't be happier to be back with Andretti Green and Honda," said Herta. "Last year was a great opportunity and it is awesome to be able to continue with the team and expand on what we achieved in 2003."
Before accepting his assignment as the substitute for Franchitti at AGR, Herta added some diversity to his background during the early part of 2003 competing in an ALMS sports car at Sebring International Raceway, a NASCAR stock car at California Speedway and a CART Champ Car at Laguna Seca.
In 2004, Herta will compete alongside AGR's three other drivers: Franchitti, who hails from Scotland, Brazilian Tony Kanaan and Englishman Dan Wheldon. Franchitti, who will drive the #27 Dallara/Honda/Firestone, missed the majority of the 2003 season and is nearing the completion of his recovery from back surgery on July 19. Kanaan drove the #11 Team 7-Eleven Honda-powered Dallara to a fourth-place finish in the 2003 IndyCar Series championship, while Wheldon won the Bombardier Rookie-of-the-Year award behind the wheel of the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone.
The sponsorship package for Herta's car, which will carry the #7, is in the process of being finalized.
Honda entered Indy Racing League competition for the first time in 2003 and enjoyed its first series victory with Kanaan at Phoenix and then its second with Herta at Kansas. Prior to entering the IRL, Honda took part in the CART series from 1994 to 2002, where the company won four manufacturers' championships (1996, '98, '99, '01) and six consecutive drivers' titles (1996-2001).
- AGR -